(Crystal A. Proxmire, Ferndale 115 News, March 1, 2012 ed)
The number one thing to know about do-it-yourself advertising is to get help when you need it. That’s what Creative Director Jon Moses of Ideation said at the DIY Advertising Over Easy Workshop hosted by the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 21, 2012.
Although that is the most important rule, there are many small business owners who don’t have the budget for a graphics person and there will always be those who think they know best for themselves. So Moses joined Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Roosenberg to help teach ambitious business owners how do to some basic things when prepping an advertising file before sending it to the printer or the online publication it was created for.
Moses graduated from the College for Creative Studies in 2007 and has since been helping small businesses and cities with their branding. He was part of the Chamber re-branding committee which came up with the new logo and website in 2009 (read about it here– warning this is our old format), and he’s worked on projects for the Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority, Bordine’s Nursery and dozens others.
The class was part of a Chamber series called “Over Easy” where members can learn about topics important to their business. (Here’s an article on a previous one, featuring NightCry and Treat Dreams).
#1 – Know when to get help.
“Designers should not just be decorating a page,” Moses said. “If you need to add fancy graphics to make your message work, than it’s probably not going to work.” He stressed that professionals understand elements of design that most people don’t consciously notice, such as where the eye is drawn to, and what text is most likely to make an impact. Choosing a professional can save time, and increase the likelihood that an ad will attract customers, or have the desired results. Often it is worth the investment.
For those who do it themselves, knowing the basics of file types is important. A JPG file has a what you see is what you get functionality that can be great for ads that the customer wants to be sure are laid out correctly. “The downside to JPGs is that when you re-size them, they lose clarity, so be sure to make them large enough files from the beginning. When in doubt, bigger is better because it’s easier to size down than to stretch a picture out,” Moses said. A PDF file has to option to expand, but when sending they can occasionally do unpredictable things, especially when there are many elements to them.
“Make sure that the file is big enough. You should have a minimum of 200 dpi for print and 72 dpi for web,” he said.
#2 – Keep it simple
“Don’t let the materials you’re using look like a liquor store,” he said, showing a picture of a typical party store with a hodgepodge of various advertisements cluttering up the front. “Choose two different fonts and a small color palette to work with. The design should be secondary to the message.”
Moses advised business owners that having too many messages can create both visual clutter and problems with reader retention. He showed two ads, one for a law firm with many words and one that was a small graphic with just a couple of words that described a product. One was much easier to process than the other.
#4 – Make it Functional
Creating ads, graphics and logos that can be used in multiple ways is a great way to maximize efforts and keep branding consistent. He recommended having a professional design a logo, and getting the logo in multiple formats and versions. Some examples would be a one-color version, a grayscale version, and reverse color versions. This is because designers don’t always put the logo on a white background, and it’s good to have options for the various backgrounds and applications. The file also has to be large enough that it won’t get blurry when used.
#5 – Don’t Get Fancy.
If your design needs effects than it’s probably not working. ‘Nuff said.
#6 – Get Input
Ask for someone else’s input and watch for their reaction. Remember that people won’t always tell you the truth. You may have to see if their face scrunches up in disgust when they first see your project. Even if there is nothing wrong with the design, a fresh set of eyes can spot typing errors, or help you remember information that you hadn’t thought to include.
#7 – Get Inspired
Moses said that he’s got a wall of ideas and inspiration where he tacks things that catch his eye, like other advertisements or pictures. He also suggested looking at what others in your particular field do for their ads – not to steal but to get ideas.
#8 – Evaluate the Results
How are you going to know if your ad is working, and what can you do better next time? These are important questions for any small business owner.
Jody Higgins of My Virtual Assistant Service was among the workshop attendees. She promotes herself as a virtual assistant, bookkeeper and social media specialist. She attended not just to learn about design, but to network with other business owners. “I really really want to build my business,” she said. “I’m thinking of joining the Chamber so I can do that, and I really liked the class. It helps to understand different file sizes and what people can and can’t do with a PDF.”
International Bancard Services Sales Representative Marvin Petuch also enjoyed hearing Moses speak. “I was very impressed for somebody that is not tech savvy this is useful. This is well beyond what I do in my business, but I can see where somebody may have a retail business and you don’t want to skimp on design. You need to have a good website,” he said. Petuch sells credit card processing services, which can be an important element for websites that offer products or services for sale online.
To find out more about upcoming Chamber classes and events, go http://www.ferndalechamber.com.
To find out more about Ideation, go to http://www.ideationorange.com.